FDNY appoints new department chief, operations chief
John Hodgens, a 35-year veteran of the FDNY, was appointed chief of fire operations, and 40-year fire veteran Thomas Richardson was named chief of department
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A pair of decorated FDNY veterans with nearly 70 years of combined experience were promoted to chief of department and chief of fire operations.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro appointed John Hodgens, a 35-year veteran of the FDNY with roots on Staten Island, as chief of fire operations. Thomas Richardson, with 40 years on the job, was named chief of department, the highest-ranking uniformed position.
"Tom Richardson has served our city with valor for four decades," said Nigro. "He's battled fires, rescued New Yorkers from life-threatening emergencies, and served as chief of operations and chief of training during his distinguished career."
"John Hodgens has led by example at every level of our department and has excelled at our lifesaving mission throughout his 35-year career," added Nigro. "Together, their leadership will ensure the safety of the more than 8 million New Yorkers our department is sworn to protect, and the members of the FDNY who bravely serve our city each day."
Hodgens got his start in the FDNY in 1986, when he was first assigned to Ladder Co. 11 in Manhattan. Two years later, he was promoted to lieutenant and transferred to Battalion 41 in Brooklyn before moving over to Ladder Co. 157 in Flatbush.
After being promoted to captain five years later, Hodgens worked in the 8th Division on Staten Island and later became the officer in charge of Co. 87 in Eltingville.
In 2006, he was promoted to battalion chief, where he served for five years. Then, in 2012, he was promoted to deputy chief and served as the division commander of Division 8 and was responsible for fire companies assigned to Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Hodgens' new position, chief of fire operations, will have him oversee the day-to-day work of more than 11,000 firefighters, fire officers and chiefs, the FDNY said in a release. He will also watch over the department's highly-trained special units, including marine and rescue operations.
"Each day, our firefighters perform incredible acts of bravery — battling fires, providing emergency medical care, responding to dangerous incidents, and carrying out elaborate rescues," said Hodgens. "It is a tremendous honor to serve as chief of fire operations, and I look forward to working closely with my fellow leaders in the department to further advance our lifesaving mission."
Hodgens has been cited for bravery twice in his career, including one harrowing rescue of an unconscious person in a Lower East Side apartment building in 1992. His father, John J. Hodgens Sr., also rose to the rank of chief and retired in 1997 after 32 years of service.
"On behalf of all New York City Firefighters, we would like to congratulate Chief Richardson and Hodgens for their appointment to the two highest ranking uniformed positions in the department," said Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association. They understand the needs of FDNY Firefighters, who put their lives and safety on the line to protect New York's over eight million residents."
"Firefighters have a dangerous job in always-increasingly challenging conditions, and we look forward to continuing the open line of communication with the new Chief of Department and Chief of Operations, who will lead the greatest Fire Department in the world, for the safety of the greatest city in the world," added Ansbro.
Richardson joined the FDNY in 1980 and was first assigned to Engine Co. 227 in Brooklyn. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1990, when he worked for a brief time in Harlem before returning back to Brooklyn when he worked at Engine Co. 235 in Bedford Stuyvesant.
He was again promoted in 1994 and served as captain of Engine Co. 234 in Crown Heights and later for Squad Co. 270 in Queens.
Richardson was promoted to battalion chief in September of 2000, the FDNY said.
In his new role as chief of department, Richardson will oversee 16,000 uniformed firefighters and EMS personnel. Additionally, he will be responsible for four major bureaus: Fire Operations, EMS Operations, Training and Fire Prevention.
His appointment is effective immediately, according to the department, and he succeeds former Chief of Department John Sudnik, who is moving to an administrative role within the FDNY.
"I am honored Commissioner Nigro has selected me to serve as the 37th chief of department," said Richardson. "During my career in the FDNY I have witnessed remarkable acts of sacrifice, compassion, heroism, and above all else, bravery, by the members of our great department. The men and women who serve as FDNY firefighters, EMTs and paramedics are the gold standard for all first responders. Our members are out there each and every day, focused on our mission of saving lives and protecting the citizens of this great city. I am truly honored and humbled to lead them as their chief."
Richardson has been cited for bravery on six occasions during his career, including during a rescue of a 15-year-old boy from a Brooklyn fire in January 1989, when he lowered a lifesaving rope from the roof of a three-story brownstone to rescue the teenager trapped by the fire.
"Both Chief Richardson and Hodgens have exceptional experience and are in-tune to the needs of the Department," said Jake Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "They will provide the exceptional leadership needed as we begin this new era."
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